Coming from my active watch on the conversational assistant market, I give you some statistics and information on the almost 550 solutions I studied. As a conclusion, I will give you my view about the future.
The event still seems to feel everything in the minds of those who followed it so much was it striking. At Google’s annual conference on May 8, 2018, the company will present its new generation of assistant: Google Duplex. It is a truer-than-life assistant. For once, a human did not call a robot but an assistant called a human (a hairdresser) to make an appointment instead of a person. The generated voice was so close to the human timbre and its variations that it was almost impossible to tell whether it was a real automation or a specially made set-up to simulate what such an assistant could be . The whole dialogue was identical to an everyday conversation, quite standard, with pauses and intonations. In retrospect, the aim of this demonstration was to create a buzz about a project rather than to present an already available product. But it did suggest the potential future of support solutions. In any case, it showed the path Google wants to take.
It is difficult to know how much the market for conversational assistants will grow in the next few years. The values given by analysts sometimes vary from simple to double. By averaging the values of the figures announced by the analysts, we can envisage a market valued at approximately 11.05 billion dollars in 2024 and 44.58 billion in 2027, i.e. a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 26%. All analysts agree to indicate an exponential growth with most certainly a levelling off at some point in time.
Solutions account for by year of creation of the company. It is important to note that the year of creation (on the abscissa of the graph below) does not always correspond to the year of availability of the solution. Many companies have often had an existence in a related field before creating their own conversational solution. This makes it difficult (unless you spend a lot of time searching when the company communicated about its solution) to know exactly when the solution was created.
However, let us go back a few years to fully understand where we are starting. It is commonly accepted that the oldest solution helping you to create your own conversational assistant (also called “chatbot”, contraction of “chatterbot”) is called A.L.I.C.E. This acronym stands for Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity. It is an application developed by William Wallace since 1995 to simulate a conversation between a human and a machine . It allows the execution of symbolic rules consisting in testing the presence of keywords in the user’s sentence. This mode of operation is very simple to use and is sufficient to cover many use cases. On the other hand, it quickly finds its limits as soon as the conversation becomes more complex and the vocabulary becomes very large.
The principle of conversational assistant was really popularized to the public on October 4, 2011 during the presentation of the new iPhone 4S integrating a revolutionary application for the public called Siri. It is important to see that many consumer innovations have been taken up in companies since employees are very often users of this type of solution in their personal lives and expect companies to provide the same service (see Enterprise Social Network, Instant Messaging, powerful search engines, etc.) It was therefore natural that assistants would also arrive in companies someday.
To understand the genesis of Siri, we have to go back 8 years, to May 2003 when DARPA launched its project called CALO. On the Calo site of the SRI in 2006 is written :
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Perceptive Assistant that Learns (PAL) program, has awarded SRI the first two phases of a five-year contract to develop an enduring personalized cognitive assistant. DARPA expects the PAL program to generate innovative ideas that result in new science, new and fundamental approaches to current problems, and new algorithms and tools, and to yield new technology of significant value to the military.
The team has named its new project CALO, for Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes.
Do you know how and why these chatbots are made? Ever since the evolution of chatbots, their motive has been the same: to provide effortless customer support to visitors. With time, chatbots have become more personalized thanks to Artificial Intelligence.
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